Well done, you made it. All the weeks and months of preparation and the hours and hours you spent practising and grinding on your chosen topic has culminated in the exam. You survived. It wasn’t so bad was it? I’m sure you did pretty good!

Once the dust settles, you can ask yourself a simple question: How well did I do?

Or more specifically, how well do I think I did?

You might have realised you made a few minor slip ups in the exam but that’s ok, we’ve said all along that there is room for error. We can get away with little mistakes and I’m sure you didn’t have any moments where things really went bad.

So let’s think about how we can self-assess our performance and work out if we did as good as we hoped to. Firstly, think about the aspects of the exam and break them down into two categories, questions will cover anything that would’ve been asked, and performance will cover the playing side of things:


Questions

In your exam the examiner can ask you a range of questions such as theory-based questions or listening based questions. Think back to the exam and imagine how you think you handled these. Did you give prompt responses, or did you have to spend some time thinking over the answers?

Some of the questions, for certain instruments, can relate to playing something back. For instance, playing back a chord or a scale. Did these questions come up for you? How did you handle them? Did you reply promptly by playing the answer in a clear and concise manner? Did you make any mistakes while playing it?

Performance Pieces

As you know, the exam also contains a performance element containing pieces from the book or pre-prepared pieces to suit the grading level you are sitting. Now, I know you’ll have been super prepared for these and you would’ve spent a lot of time going over them, but how did they go on the day?

Were you able to give a comfortable and confident rendition of the notated piece you prepared?

Take some time to think about how you might have put the piece across, you want to come across to the examiner like you’re a seasoned pro and that you know what you’re doing. You don’t want to come across like you are fumbling for notes and uncertain. Did you portray yourself in a good light while performing?


When it comes to self-assessing your performance, you should make note of all these questions and write down answers on a sheet of paper. This will highlight to you any areas you feel you might have done badly, but on the other hand, you could also write down any areas you feel you may have excelled.

What if you did badly? So what? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Of course, no one wants to fail, we all want to pass our graded exams with flying colours and come out with fantastic results. If you are unfortunate enough to have a bad day then learn from it. Use the mistakes you made to push yourself and understand why you made those mistakes. Every mistake you make is a learning opportunity.


About the Author:

This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MGR Music by Leigh Fuge, a professional guitarist, tutor and journalist from Wales in the UK. He has been working in the music industry for over 10 years as a touring and studio musician with various artists, guitar tutor and writer for many high profile guitar publications. Read more of Leigh's pieces relating to Rockschool here...